Now that Microsoft has announced plans to remove the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) from the next version of its Windows operating system and Internet Explorer, the debate has started about whether this is a terrible blow to Sun or a chance to use a different channel to distribute JVM. Will users download the plug-in needed to run Java-based programs, or will Sun succeed in getting manufacturers to include the latest version of its software with their machines?
Microsoft's official comment on this is that it was done for "business reasons," but it doesn’t take a law degree to see that this is retaliation for the 1997 lawsuit Sun filed against Microsoft.
Commentators have pointed out that Microsoft has been using an older version of JVM anyway, so it’s not like the current situation is ideal for Sun. And, of course, XP will support Java, so it’s not like Microsoft is cutting out Java entirely.
A push from the IT community
A petition is now going around to encourage original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) such as Dell, Gateway, and Compaq to include JVM with their machines. In the petition, technology writer Clay Shirky and technical publisher O'Reilly & Associates state:
"Seen in this light, the recent announcement by Microsoft not to include a Java Virtual Machine (JVM) with its future operating systems is a terrible blow to the computing ecosystem. This decision threatens to lower the diversity of programs that can easily run on the PC, and it raises unnecessary barriers to interconnecting the world's devices."
The discussion about this petition ranges from anger: "Microsoft makes moves like this one and then they wonder why they are disliked so much in the development community. Thanks for making life harder for many of us again," to business analysis: "Removing the JVM is Microsoft's way of placing a barrier to market. Most end users are clueless as to the importance of the JVM and therefore won't understand why their browser bombs on just about every Web site they hit. Monopolistic move that can be thwarted this time? You bet. OEMs need to preinstall the JVM."